France agrees to relocate 400 refugees from Greece

France agrees to relocate 400 refugees from Greece

France will take 400 asylum seekers from Greece, with priority given to families and other vulnerable individuals, France's Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said after meeting with Alternate Minister of Migration Greece Koumoutsakos in Athens on Monday.

Nunez said that a group of French specialists would arrive in Greece to prepare the relocation, expected to be completed by summer. The move is one of the six measures hammered out to assist Greece with the refugee issue.

The measures belong to a framework "of close and trusting collaboration between two countries," Nunez said and described his visit as related to "the solidarity France is obliged to express."

In addition, France will send 24 specialists on asylum, with the option of increasing their number and extending their tour of duty in Greece to three or four instead of the current two. The number of French officials aiding EU's Frontex guarding agency will rise from the current 176 to 200, the ministers said.

Issues under discussion included collaboration on merging flights of individuals being returned from France and Greece to their countries of origin after their asylum applications have been rejected, the option of having the French embassy in Greece issue the return permits (laissez-passer), and the possibility of adding a third French official at Greek airports as a link for secondary tranfers within the EU.

Koumoutsakos spoke of the need for a vigorous EU policy for asylum and migration. "Europe urgently needs a policy that can address new factors," he said.

He also called on Turkey to collaborate more on the EU-Turkey Joint Statement on the return of migrants, and descrobed its repeated threats to send migrants to Europe as "particularly unproductive."

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